Headache Medication and Porno Tomatoes

Some Keys to Understanding and Being Understood

A sweet woman approached our product table at Legacy Five’s Memorial Day Celebration.

After looking everything over, she asked, “Do you have any CM ones?”

Our staff kindly responded that we didn’t have any ‘CM ones’. They had never heard of a ‘CM one’. Neither had I.  We must have looked very confused.

At that point the lady declared, “You most certainly have ‘CM ones!’  I have five of Ken’s ‘CM ones’.” My sister likes the ‘Hear M ones,’  but I like the ‘CM ones.'”

Suddenly I understood…
There were two kinds of products on our table. DVDs that you watch (see ’em ones) and CDs that you listen to (hear ’em ones)

Once we understood the language that was being spoken we sold several ‘CM ones’.

It doesn’t matter whether you are talking with a member of your family, preaching, selling DVDs or cars, training puppies, or training children. Excellent communicators know that if you want to communicate you must use a few keys to open the door to understanding and being understood.

Diane and I constantly have to distinguish between what we said and what we meant. The secret is to use these keys in every conversation.

When you are the one speaking…

Be clear

“Bring me something to make me feel better” is ambiguous and easily misunderstood.

Include details

“Bring me something to help with this headache” is better but could still lead to another trip to the pharmacy.

“Please bring me some Tylenol”  is clear and unmistakable.

Confirm that you have been understood

A quickly scribbled reminder or even a verbal reminder not to forget the Tylenol will almost surely lead to success.

As Diane was leaving to go shopping one day I asked her to pick up Borne Ultimatum.  She was in a hurry so she did not look at me or listen very carefully. She came home about an hour later obviously frustrated. “I got everything we needed except your ‘Porno Tomatoes.’ I asked everywhere. No one had ever heard of them.”

It took me half a day to quit laughing long enough to tell her I had asked for Borne Ultimatum, NOT Porno Tomatoes.

Imagine if I had been more clear, added detail and confirmed that I was understood. There would have been no frustration.

I should have taken the time to make just a few changes by adding clarifying words such as…

“Honey, while you’re shopping would you please pick up a copy of the Matt Damen movie, “Borne Ultimatum. Do you know the movie I’m talking about?”

Had I asked that question as she left, I guarantee several grocery clerks would not have been left wondering what kind of woman shops for porno tomatoes.

When someone is speaking to you…

Listen

We would have enjoyed a movie that night if Diane had not been in such a hurry and listened carefully

Think

I am sure Diane had never heard of that kind of tomato before. That should have inspired her to ask a question.

Question

“Ken! What is a porno tomato?” I would have instantly cleared up the misunderstanding. If she had asked, “How may porno tomatoes do you want me to get?” OR even uttered an incredulous, “WHAT???”  It would have led to clarification.

Confirm

Diane could also have asked questions that would have insured we were on the same page…

“I’m about to leave, is there a particular movie in the Borne Ultimatum series that you want?  Also, would you like me to pick up some tomatoes?”

Just as I was finishing writing this post, Diane added another tip….  “Get a hearing aid!!!”

What have been your communication adventures?
Do you have any tips on making yourself clear?

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8 thoughts on “Headache Medication and Porno Tomatoes

  1. I work in retail and it is always interesting trying to help a customer find what they want when I am not sure what they are talking about. Or when I send them to the product I think that they are looking for with out clarifying what it is they are looking for. This happened to me yesterday. I sent a lady to the kitchen chair cushions and she wanted a recliner chair cover. She had asked if we had chair covers, but i wasn’t paying full attention to her.

  2. Good tips, Ken! Gotta be honest, though…”porno tomatoes’ in the email subject line is what drew my attention 🙂

    What a good laugh!!

  3. don’t talk to someone on your way out of the room…and ask (politely) ‘can you mute the tv for a minute?, I have something I need to ask you…’ just pay attention to each other, no matter who you’re talking with. ; )

  4. Very true. In teaching I have to “understand” how today’s students in college think. All these years of teaching and I still have to “understand” how today’s students think and hear things. Amazing, but the times change, students stay the same age, but I age and have to adjust to their “world”. Their world for some of these students doesn’t lie far from their phones.

    We have to get them interested in looking beyond that small field of interest.

    We need more humor injected in their daily world. I wish I had been born more of a comedian. But, those around me know that I love them and value them as God’s children.